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NTSB: 2 Planes Almost Collided Over Newark Liberty International Airport

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two airborne planes almost collided over Newark Liberty International Airport last month, according to a preliminary federal report.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board classifies the incident as a near midair collision.

The report estimated that a landing Boeing 737 operated by United was about 50 yards laterally — about three-tenths of a mile — from an ExpressJet flight that was taking off en route to Memphis on an intersecting runway. The usual spacing is a minimum of 2 miles, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

The planes were about 400 feet apart vertically.

The ExpressJet pilot is heard on his radio telling air traffic controllers he was keeping the plane’s nose down as he climbed. The United flight was ordered to abort its landing.

The United flight was carrying six crew and 155 passengers. The ExpressJet flight was carrying three crew and 47 passengers.

Sources say the United pilot did not circle the airport as ordered and landed the plane, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.

On Monday night, travelers at Newark airport did not appear to be too worried.

“I think that flying is one of the safest forms of transportation, so I don’t think about it,” Ashin Raveenbran said.

But experts said this incident was indeed worth thinking hard about.

“This was too close,” Mark Rosenker, a CBS News transportation safety analyst and former NTSB chairman, told Diamond. “And it was by a combination of the air traffic controllers finally recognizing the situation and excellent airmanship, professionalism in the cockpit that saved the day.”

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)